This morning, the Graduate Workers of Columbia (GWC-UAW Local 2110), having just voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, announced in a post on their website that they will go on strike April 24 at 10:00am if the Columbia University administration does not declare its intention to begin bargaining with the union before then. The union also noted that it had sent a letter with these demands to President Lee Bollinger. If the university “continues to defy both labor law and the democratic voice of its workers, and does not agree to bargain by that date,” the union writes in the post, it will begin striking immediately. This strike, if initiated, will last until the end of the day on Monday, April 30th—the last day of classes this semester. The union notes that this “is only the beginning;” if the university still refuses to meet graduate workers at the bargaining table following this strike, the union will call for another strike in the future.
The union notes that their decision to strike follows both a democratic vote (in which 1,832 out of 1,968 participants voted in favor of a strike) and over 1,000 organizing conversations across departments that have taken place over the course of the past few months. Department leaders will be reaching out to graduate workers this week to develop more detailed plans for the strike, and the union will be holding a general body meeting tonight at 7:00pm in Avery Hall 114 to answer questions about the strike. In their statement, the union calls, once again, on Columbia to begin bargaining immediately so that a strike isn’t necessary; however, because graduate workers “would like the opportunity to continue [their] work with all the security a contract provides,” they “are prepared to strike if Columbia makes such an action necessary.”
If the strike does take place, the union will be operating a picket line from 11:00am to 3:00 pm on April 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, and 30th. More information about how graduate workers can sign up for picketing shifts will be made available soon.
The full statement is available after the jump.
We are announcing a strike deadline. We have just sent President Bollinger a letter demanding that the university declare its intention to begin bargaining by 10am on April 24. If the university continues to defy both labor law and the democratic voice of its workers, and does not agree to bargain by that date, we will go on strike immediately on April 24, and continue the strike through the end of classes (April 30). This is only the beginning; if Columbia continues to refuse to bargain, they should expect us to strike again.
This decision to strike follows not only a democratic vote by a majority of grad workers, but also over a thousand organizing conversations across departments over the past few months. Department leaders will continue to reach out over the next week to develop more detailed plans with their departments, and we will host a general body meeting to answer questions about the strike on Monday, April 16 from 7-9pm in Avery Hall Room 114. We urge Columbia to begin bargaining and avert a strike—we came to graduate school because we care about the work that we do, and we would like the opportunity to continue that work with all the security a contract provides. For that very reason, we are prepared to strike if Columbia makes such an action necessary.
In order to be fully prepared for this action, we encourage you to:
- read our strike faq,
- look at our suggestions for talking to students about the strike,
- look at our suggestions for talking to faculty about the strike,
- plan to join the picket! Our main picket line will operate from 11 am to 3 pm Tuesday, April 24, to Monday, April 30 (weekdays only). There will also be other opportunities to participate. In order to have a strong, visible picket line, it will be important to spend as close as possible to 20 hours on the line in lieu of working. More information on how to sign up for picketing shifts will come soon.
Just like the vote, the strike depends on all of our strong participation. We are the union. Bargain now!
Photo via columbiagradunion.org